UK favours Humira, Enbrel for psoriatic arthritis

LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Abbott Laboratories' ABT.N drug Humira and Enbrel, from Pfizer PFE.N and Amgen AMGN.O, should be the first choices for treating patients with psoriatic arthritis, Britain's cost-effectiveness watchdog said on Monday.

A third medicine called Remicade, from Merck & Co MRK.N and Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N, should only be used when patients are intolerant to the other two drugs, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said.

NICE rules on which medicines should be paid for by the state-run National Health Service and its decisions are closely monitored worldwide. Its latest recommendations are still in draft form and subject to consultation.

Psoriatic arthritis is an inflammatory joint disease associated with psoriasis which causes stiffness, pain and lack of movement in joints.

NICE said treatment with all three expensive biotech medicines should be reserved for patients who have not responded adequately to at least two standard disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and treatment should be stopped if it was not working after 12 weeks. (Reporting by Ben Hirschlerl Editing by David Holmes)